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Old Warden

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[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]

"OLD WARDEN, a parish in the hundred of Wixamtree, county Bedford, 3 miles S.W. of Biggleswade, its post town, and 8 south east of Bedford. The village was formerly a market town, and had a fair granted in 1218. An abbey for Cistercian monks from Rievaulx was founded in 1135 by Walter l'Espec, the revenue of which, at the Dissolution, was valued at £390, when the site was given to the Whitbreads. At Warden Hills is a meet for Mr. Brand's hounds. In the vicinity is the ruin of Warden Abbey. The living is a vicarage, annexed to that of Southill, in the diocese of Ely. The church, dedicated to St. Leonard, has been restored at the expense of the present Lord Ongley. In the churchyard is the mausoleum of the Ongley family. There are Sunday and infant schools. The principal residence is Warden House. W. H. Whitbread, Esq., is lord of the manor.

"CHURCH END, a village in the parish of Old Warden, county of Bedfordshire, ½ mile north of Old Warden."

"WARDEN STREET, a long hamlet in the parish of Old Warden, county of Bedfordshire, ½ mile east north east of Old Warden."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013




Church History

  • Church of England
    • The church of St. Leonard is a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, south aisle, south porch and an embattled western tower containing 4 bells: it underwent considerable repairs in 1841-2,when the interior was renovated, pews of black oak, elaborately carved, substituted, and several stained windows inserted, the whole being executed at the expense of Robert Henley, third and last baron Ongley, and late owner of the estate, who died in 1877, and whose munificence has been recorded on a mural tablet of brass: in the nave is a marble statue of Sir Samuel Ongley, knt. and there are tablets to several of his descendants: there is a picture in the church, a copy of one by Guercino : in 1890, the stained east window was erected, and there is a memorial window on the north side of the chancel, erected in 1885, and one containing some fragments of ancient glass said to have been removed from the abbey: a new organ was placed in the church in 1887 by Major F. Shuttleworth: there are 250 sittings : the churchyard is planted with evergreens and flowering shrubs, and contains a fine monument to Joseph Shuttleworth, erected by his sons, Alfred and Major Frank Shuttleworth J.P. The register dates from the year 1576. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
  • Non-conformist
    • Here is a Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1878, with 120 sittings. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]

Church Records


Description and Travel

  • Of the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary, founded by Walter De Espec A.D. 1136, and one mile west from the church, the refectory is the only portion now remaining; it was surrendered December 4th, 1538, by the abbot and 14 monks, the revenue being estimated at from £389 to £442. Near the church is the site of a supposed Roman encampment, known as "Quince Hill": various relics found here are now in the Fitswilliam Museum, at Cambridge. Old Warden House, formerly the seat of Lord Ongley, was some years ago taken down, and a stone mansion, in the Tudor style, erected on the same site by the late owner Joseph Shuttleworth esq. J.P. ; the park and pleasure grounds, beautifully studded with tree, extend over 550 acres and contain a lake; the estate is held by Major Frank Shuttleworth J.P. late 7th Hussars, second son of the late Joseph Shuttleworth. Samuel Whitbread esq. is lord of the manor. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]



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Military History